various artists – lone star horizons [a texas tribute to jason molina]

simply to live, that was my plan

i love almost every rendition on this texas compilation of jason molina’s music. they’re quite hard to describe; why i like them so much. and there’s a tangent on the medium that i’ll get to.

take it’s hard to love a man by the blurries. this is one of the songs that oddly pertains ideally to my female voice, as invoked by a man. it sings what i’ve always wanted to say to men – those i’ve loved and those i wish i’d loved. and it’s brilliantly carried here.

it’s followed by an almost cure-like take on just a spark by cyber dads, but that’s too simplistic a likeness. the melody is taken by an odd electronic instrument, and the vocals are stunningly ethereal, while it’s largely the rhythm and drumming style that reminds me of the cure in the era of combined boris williams and simon gallup. this is one of my favourite jason molina songs, and this is the best tribute. genuine, beautiful, new, old – affecting in a way that’s different to the original, but no less close to one’s heart.

a song cover like the work danny rush folmer does on being in love, another standout, shows that relatively small tweaks can be made on an original (aside from the vast difference of another artist performing it), and something new can be achieved and conveyed. i love how isaac hoskins sings it broke my heart to know you waited on leave the city. it’s followed by a suitably even creepier-than-original take on get out get out get out by jordan moser.

perhaps not my favourite, but noteworthy in the collection of songs and performers, is lex land doing northstar blues. this extends to the faithful and equally emotive work that linen closet achieve on no limit on the words; and the stunning noise rock version of soul by ryan thomas becker. i love that none of the bands included seems to be attributable, easily, to any particular category of music. yet they are almost exclusively great. without hyperbole.

the medium mentioned above is unusual these days; cassette, believe it or not. i remember that, when i was starting to explore my music identity in the early to mid 1990s, tapes were still the main way to share discoveries. brand new cds cost $30 each, minimum, which was prohibitive for a teenager. many of my favourites were worn out on cassette in the early days. i forgot the need to turn tape over at the end of side a (a more common feature with records than any other medium since); and the daft period in which you’re so absorbed in something else that you realise there has been silence for who knows how many minutes. usually the automatic click of the tape player at the end of the side is sign enough. perhaps a more remarkable thing is that i still have a piece of technology that plays cassettes.

i have to return to perhaps my favourite song on this release that appears near the end of side b – some say leland performing 34 blues. before the tape arrived (which only happened today), i listened in parts to the digital version downloaded when the cash flew across the ether. this song struck me immediately, to the core. it was the perfectly distilled evidence that a combination of beautifully written music and the interpretation of other minds and arrangements can result in something truly moving.

to be fair, i’ve never heard of any of the bands. but without exception, texas truly paid tribute to jason molina.

to the ones i leave and the ones ahead

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